After a dismal performance and big missed chance to take all three points last weekend, it’s time for us to pull our socks up ahead of what promises to be a tough game at Leicester.
The Foxes go into the weekend’s round of Premier League fixtures in 3rd – making them them to most in form side behind the ‘big two’ – so this one is going to be a real test.
The worry is it’s hard to know what you’re going to get with this side under Bruce – and the performance vs Brighton suggested some players weren’t really sure what the plan was.
Our 1-0 win at Spurs last month proved what we are capable of when we dig in, set up correctly and get the balance right between being solid at the back and opportunistic in attack, so let’s we can spring a surprise on the road once again.
Steve Bruce has all but confirmed that he won’t be dropping Miguel Almiron this weekend – something I was happy to hear given it would do nothing to boost his already low confidence levels.
That said, he needs to step it up now, with Saint-Maximin passed fit and Atsu in decent form.
I’d be tempted to start Saint-Maximin in this one given the immediate lift he gave us last weekend, but Bruce did admit that he’s still not ‘100% happy mentally’ with his hamstring, so i’m not sure he’ll be risked from the off in a game that will require him to run a lot in both directions.
Sean Longstaff is fit again and will almost certainly replace Jonjo Shelvey – who is now set to miss a ‘couple of weeks’ with a hamstring injury.
At the back, I see no real reason why Manquillo shouldn’t continue at right wing-back given he helped us to a clean sheet (albeit a unconvincing one!) last time out.
I’d be very tempted to go for the below team in this one, playing Atsu and Saint-Maximin out wide, Almiron at no.10 and have two holding midfielders screening a solid flat back four to allow our front four to get at Leicester, however I can’t see Bruce going after this one based on his comments in midweek!
Preferred NUFC XI – (4-2-3-1) – Dubravka – Krafth, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett – Hayden, Longstaff – Atsu, Almiron, Saint-Maximin – Joelinton.
Here’s a few ‘ones to watch’ in Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester side:
Jamie Vardy – Blistering pace in behind and one of the most devastating finishers in the league for me. He’s not often involved in the build up play, but he can’t be given any space inside the box. Hopefully he’s starved of service if Maddison misses out.
Ayoze Perez – He’s yet to score a competitive goal for Leicester after he swapped Tyneside for the East Midlands a few months ago, so we all know what that means! In all seriousness, we know how he comes alive in the box and can be brilliant on his day, however a few Foxes fans I’ve spoken too haven’t been impressed by what they’ve seen so far. Let’s hope he has another off day and doesn’t come back to haunt us!
Caglar Söyüncü – Many were shocked when Leicester sold Maguire and didn’t ‘replace’ him over the summer, but the Turkish centre-back has been outstanding whenever I’ve watched him. He’s very aggressive – which can sometimes work against him – but he’s a tough competitor who’s also more than capable of stepping out of defence with the ball.
Youri Tielemans – With Maddison expected to miss out, Rodgers will be looking to the young Belgian midfielder to create. He bagged a goal and an assist in midweek and will be one of the key men we must stop if we’re to keep Vardy, Perez and their marauding full-backs quiet.
Predicted Leicester XI – (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel – Perreira, Evans, Söyüncü, Chilwell – Ndidi – Perez, Tielemans, Praet, Barnes – Vardy.
Jonjo Shelvey has been ruled out with a ‘grade 2 hamstring injury’, but Allan Saint-Maximin, Sean Longstaff and Andy Carroll have all been passed fit, while DeAndre Yedlin could also return to the squad.
The game comes too soon for Matt Ritchie – who could be back next weekend – while Florian Lejeune and Dwight Gayle are not yet ready to return despite stepping up their recovery from injury.
For Leicester, James Maddison is a doubt after picking up an injury in the Foxes 2-1 win over Spurs last weekend.
It may take another Spurs-esque performance if we’re to come away from this one with all three points.
Leicester could struggle without Maddison, while Saint-Maximin’s potential return could give us a huge boost at the other end, however Bruce must get the balance right and set us up with a plan – something we totally lacked vs Brighton last weekend.
I’m hoping I’m proved wrong, but I’m struggling to see past a win for a high-flying Leicester side.
Prediction: Leicester 2-0 Newcastle
Howay the lads!